Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James Bridges|
|Produced by||Irving Azoff
|Screenplay by||James Bridges
|Story by||Aaron Latham|
|Music by||Ralph Burns|
|Edited by||David Rawlins|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$53,300,000 (USA)|
Urban Cowboy is a 1980 American western romantic drama film about the love-hate relationship between Buford Uan "Bud" Davis (John Travolta) and Sissy (Debra Winger). The movie captured the late 1970s/early 1980s popularity of country music. It was John Travolta's third major acting role after Saturday Night Fever and Grease.
Bud Davis moves from the small West Texas town of Spur, Texas to Pasadena, Texas, located near the heavily industrial eastern side of Houston, and a better paying job in the city's oil refinery in hopes of saving enough money to move back to his hometown and buy some land. Bud moves in with his Uncle Bob (Barry Corbin) and his family, to whom Bud is close. Bob takes Bud to the local honky tonk, Gilley's (at the time, an actual bar in Pasadena, co-owned by singer Mickey Gilley and his record producer Sherwood Cryer which was then claimed to be the largest indoor (enclosed) bar in the world). Bud quickly embraces the local nightlife there. Most of the events take place in and around Gilley's.
At the club, Bud is approached by Sissy (Debra Winger), who asks if he is a real cowboy. The two dance together, showcasing Travolta's dancing abilities, and they fall in love. After a fight, Bud suddenly asks Sissy if she wants to marry him, and they are married in Gilley's. Bud and Sissy have many lovers' quarrels, some very intense, mainly due to their different views of men and women in society. Sissy is a fiery independent woman, with a strong belief that anything men can do women can do, while Bud still believes in very traditional gender roles, and that "there are just some things girls can't do". However, their love for each other always brings them back together again. Their lives settle into a routine of hard work during the day and living it up at Gilley's during the night. (The movie's tagline is "Hard hat days and honky-tonk nights.")
One night Wes Hightower, a former inmate at Huntsville Penitentiary, arrives at Gilley's and shows off his superior bull riding skills and flirts with an interested Sissy. Later at a diner Wes again flirts with Sissy which causes a drunk Bud to tell off Wes, who lets it slide, but after Bud angrily throws his food at the waitress and inadvertently hits Wes they have a fist fight outside which Wes wins. The next morning Bud nearly dies when he falls off the 200 foot scaffold at the refinery but hangs on with his legs. Meanwhile Sissy, against Bud's wishes, learns to ride the mechanical bull with her friend Jessie, Wes, and Steve. During supper Bud and Sissy argue but quickly make up and decide to go to Gilley's. While Bud and his friends are talking about his accident at the refinery Jessie and Wes, who was hired to help run the bull, convince Sissy to ride the bull and Bud's friends says she rides better than Bud. Jealous and angry Bud starts a contest with Sissy. Bud turns the bull up to the maximum level for his second ride but falls off, as he stands back up Wes turns the bull back around fast and breaks Bud's arm. Bud is escorted out of Gilley's while Wes secretly is shown to have had a knife ready. At home Sissy taunts Bud about their bull riding competition and accuses Bud of being jealous of her superior skills. Bud slaps her and kicks her out of the house.
The next night at Gilley's Bud tells Sissy that Wes is an escaped convict but she informs him that he is out on parole. They argue after Sissy refuses to talk with Bud further and wishes him luck in "finding someone who will". Bud dances with Pam (Madolyn Smith) and Sissy dances with Wes. Bud and Pam leave Gilley's and have a one night stand but Sissy refuses Wes' sexual advances. The next morning Sissy moves out of Bud's house and moves in with Wes. Pam tracks Bud down and moves in with him and Bud introduces her to his family.
Bud begins training for a bull riding contest at Gilley's with his uncle Bob and Bob's friends at a local ranch. One night at the refinery Bob advises Bud to swallow his pride, as he had to do, in order to hold onto someone he loves. Later Bob is killed in an explosion when a lightning storm strikes the refinery. Meanwhile Wes cheats on Sissy with her friend Marshalene who works at Gilley's and openly flaunts it when Sissy arrives home with groceries. Wes asks if she bought cigarettes and Sissy throws them at Wes who drags her by the hair and forces her to pick up the cigarettes and again beats her when she refuses to fix him a meal.
At Bob's funeral Sissy tells Bud that Wes was fired from Gilley's for hurting too many people and cannot find a job so they plan on winning the bull riding contest at Gilley's and going to Mexico. At the bull riding contest Wes sets the highest score in the first round and Bud shows significant improvement and wins the contest in the second round. Bud wins the $5,000 cash prize but Pam realizes that Bud still loves Sissy and encourages him to reconcile with her.
Wes and Sissy prepare to leave for Mexico which Sissy refuses to do but agrees after Wes pistol whips her. Inside Gilley's Wes steals the money and ties up the office staff as the winners for the dance, punching bag, and bull riding contests are announced. As he prepares to leave Wes is spotted by his friend Steve Strange and Bud, having reconciled with Sissy, starts a fist fight with Wes for having hit Sissy in the face. Bud punches Wes and all of the money that Wes had stolen falls from his jacket. Gilley's management, discovering the attempted robbery, praise Bud's help and detain Wes at gunpoint. Bud and Sissy finally depart Gilley's (the source and location of most of their troubles) together.
- John Travolta as Bud Davis
- Debra Winger as Sissy Davis
- Scott Glenn as Wes Highhtower
- Madolyn Smith as Pam
- Barry Corbin as Bob Davis
- Brooke Alderson as Corene Davis
- Cooper Huckabee as Marshall
- James Gammon as Steve Strange
- Steve Strange as Sam Strange
- Mickey Gilley as Himself
- Johnny Lee as Himself
- Bonnie Raitt as Herself
- Charlie Daniels as Himself
- Ellen March as Becky
- Jessie La Rive as Jessie
- Howard Henson as Himself
- Connie Hanson as Marshalene
The film's screenplay was adapted by Aaron Latham and James Bridges from an article by the same name in Esquire Magazine written by Latham. The original Esquire article centered on the romance between two Gilley's regulars named Dew Westbrook and Betty Helmer. Westbrook and Helmer's real life relationship became the inspiration for the on screen romance between John Travolta and Debra Winger's characters "Bud" and "Sissy".  The movie was directed by Bridges. Some film critics referred to the movie as a country music version of Saturday Night Fever. The film grossed almost $47 million in the United States alone, and recovered Travolta from the flop Moment by Moment (1978), but the film was nowhere near as successful as either Saturday Night Fever ($94 million) or Grease ($188 million).
John Travolta, et al, rented a home in the Memorial area overlooking Buffalo Bayou on or about 110 Shasta Drive, Houston, Texas 77024. The entourage was frequently seen driving back and forth down Lindenwood Drive and Shasta Drive while filming in Houston.
The film received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie received a 77% "Fresh" rating. "Urban Cowboy is not only most entertaining but also first-rate social criticism," said Vincent Canby of The New York Times. Variety's staff members wrote, "Director James Bridges has ably captured the atmosphere of one of the most famous chip-kicker hangouts of all: Gilley's Club on the outskirts of Houston."
The movie spawned a hit soundtrack album featuring numerous Top 10 Billboard Country Singles, such as #1 "Lookin' for Love" by Johnny Lee, #1 "Stand by Me" by Mickey Gilley, #3 (AC chart) "Look What You've Done to Me" by Boz Scaggs, #1 "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band, #1 "Could I Have This Dance" by Anne Murray, and #4 "Love the World Away" by Kenny Rogers. The film is said to have started the 1980s boom in pop-country music known as the "Urban Cowboy Movement" also known as Neo-Country or Hill Boogie.
|Soundtrack album by Various Artists|
|Label||Full Moon, Asylum|
|Producer||Irving Azoff (exec.)|
- Hello Texas – Jimmy Buffett (2:33)
- All Night Long – Joe Walsh (3:50)
- Times Like These – Dan Fogelberg (3:02)
- Nine Tonight – Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band (6:35)
- Stand By Me – Mickey Gilley (3:35)
- Cherokee Fiddle – Johnny Lee (4:06)
- Could I Have This Dance – Anne Murray (3:14)
- Lyin' Eyes – The Eagles (6:23)
- Lookin' for Love – Johnny Lee (3:41)
- Don't it Make You Want to Dance – Bonnie Raitt (3:29)
- The Devil Went Down to Georgia – Charlie Daniels Band (3:35)
- Here Comes the Hurt Again – Mickey Gilley (2:41)
- Orange Blossom Special / Hoedown – Gilley's "Urban Cowboy" Band (2:06)
- Love the World Away – Kenny Rogers (3:11)
- Falling in Love for the Night – Charlie Daniels Band (3:00)
- Darlin' – Bonnie Raitt (2:34)
- Look What You've Done to Me – Boz Scaggs (5:39)
- Hearts Against the Wind – Linda Ronstadt with J. D. Souther (2:58)
|U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums||1|
|U.S. Billboard 200||3|
|Canadian RPM Country Albums||2|
|Canadian RPM Top Albums||21|
Music Man by Waylon Jennings
Horizon by Eddie Rabbitt
|Top Country Albums number-one album
August 2 – September 6, 1980
September 20–27, 1980
Horizon by Eddie Rabbitt
Honeysuckle Rose by Willie Nelson
- Vincent Canby (1980-06-11). "John Travolta, Urban Cowboy". The New York Times.
- "Dew Westbrook THE ORIGINAL URBAN COWBOY IS STILL LOOKING FOR LOVE.". Texas Monthly. Texas Monthly. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
- Huynh, Dai. "Restaurateur Mama Ninfa dies." Houston Chronicle. Monday June 18, 2001. A1. Retrieved on February 5, 2012.
- Kelly, Devin (2013-09-18). "Patsy Swayze, mother of Patrick Swayze, dies at 86". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-10-06.
- "Urban Cowboy - Rotten Tomatoes". Rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved 2012-05-29.
- "Movie Review - Urban Cowboy - TRAVOLTA, 'URBAN COWBOY' - NYTimes.com". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2012-05-29.
- "Variety Reviews - Urban Cowboy - Film Reviews - - Review by Variety Staff". Variety.com. Retrieved 2012-05-29.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Urban Cowboy|
- Urban Cowboy at the Internet Movie Database
- Urban Cowboy at the Internet Broadway Database
- Urban Cowboy at Rotten Tomatoes
- Production: Urban Cowboy – Working in the Theatre Seminar video at American Theatre Wing.org, April 2003